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Earthlife Africa Protests Nuclear Deals At French And Russian Embassies

Earthlife Africa Protests Nuclear Deals At French And Russian Embassies

Non-governmental organisation, Earthlife Africa, has planned protests outside of the French and Russian Embassies in Pretoria on Wednesday the 5th of  November.

“Earthlife Africa Jhb and its allies are concerned that the Russian and French governments are subverting South Africa’s economies through the proposed sale of new nuclear reactors. We will be sending a clear message that South Africans do not want either Russia or France’s nuclear reactors. The main protest will be at the French Embassy at 11am, more details below,” the NGO said in a statement.

This is after President Jacob Zuma granted Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson authority to sign a nuclear agreement with France and Russia in September and October. The Russian deal is worth around R1 trillion for that country to supply nuclear plants to SA. The French deal is worth around R554 billion and will see French nuclear giant, Areva, bidding to build eight nuclear reactors in South Africa.

Earthlife said it was embarking on these (and future) protest actions to highlight some fundamental truth about the proposed nuclear deal.

“The first is that the sale of nuclear reactors will prop up the French and Russian nuclear industries, bring hard currencies to their economies, but will do so at the expense of South African. In effect, we will be subsiding their economies, not contributing to our own development,” Earthlife Africa said.

“The second truth is, with Eskom still unable to find R220 billion to fund its current and massively delayed and over-budget build programme, that the debt and obligations South Africa will incur will compromise our financial independence.

“Already, valuable state assets will be sold to fund Eskom’s current energy disaster. With a price tag of over a trillion rands, the proposed nuclear programme will require a combination of loans, export credits, and future payments to these nuclear vendors.

“We will be putting ourselves under obligation to either France or Russia, and, they will be ruthless in exacting their returns. Once again, as is the case with Medupi and Kusile, reckless energy expenditures will be covered through increased taxation and rising tariffs.”

The NGO said that the third truth was that the opportunity cost of the proposed nuclear deal will be high, a veritable missed opportunity for the transformation of South Africa’s economy.

“Nuclear power is the most expensive form of energy generation, and the money spent on it will leave South Africa,” it said.

“If we invested in renewable energy instead, pumping even half of the proposed nuclear price tag, into the nascent South African renewable energy industry, we could develop a jobs intensive and affordable home-grown energy sector. Already, new wind is cheaper than new coal in South Africa, both of which are dirt cheap when compared to nuclear power.

“Lastly, we wish to highlight that windmills and concentrated solar plants do not experience meltdowns or produce volumes of radioactive and toxic waste that last for tens of thousands of years. Nor, we might add, do their fuel silos collapse.”